Pitch Reading

Purpose: develop your ability to sight-read pitches on the keyboard.

Difficulty: your choice of four levels:
1. Natural with no ledger lines
2. Key signatures with no ledger lines
3. Key signatures plus accidentals and high ledger lines
4. Key signatures plus accidentals and low ledger lines

(Ledger lines are the short lines that extend the range of a staff higher or lower. Accidentals are sharps or flats that appear beside a note instead of in the key signature that begins the piece.)

How it works:

For this activity only the pitches matter. You can play the notes without regard to the rhythm - just concentrate on touching the correct keys. Your score is based entirely on whether you can get the pitches all correct. In the higher levels of difficulty you'll need to be aware of the key signature, and sometimes added accidentals (sharps or flats outside the signature). The melodies are invented by the computer, so they are always new and often interesting. To make the exercise more fun these will include chord accompaniment invented by the computer. (Occasionally the computer chooses the wrong harmony for the melody but usually the chords work well and add interest. You can turn off the chord sound if desired by touching the blue information button at the left of the chord staff.)

When the activity opens you'll see a melody displayed on the staff - the starting note is shown on the keyboard with a blue dot. A blue arrow above the staff shows you which note to play next (see "Tips" below). You can have Musica play the melody for you by touching the Play button. If the Pause button is showing you'll need to touch the Stop button before you can touch Play.

When you finish, any pitch errors will be indicated by a red circle on the note. If you want to improve your score, you can try each melody as many times as you like. Touch the "Try it again" button to start.

When you see an accidental beside a note, remember that it applies to all further notes on that line or space up until the next measure line, unless it is cancelled by another accidental. Remember also that even a white key can be a sharp or a flat. For example, a sharp raises any note by one half step, so if you see an E Sharp it would be played by the piano key normally used for F. This may seem crazy but it is all explained in Chapter 1 of our free multimedia textbook, Exploring Theory with Practica Musica (available for download at the iBooks store).


Feeling pretty good about your score? This activity gives you a chance to challenge a friend to beat your score for a particular example. When you've finished an example, look for the challenge icon (dueling noteheads) right underneath the Share button on the right side of the screen. Touch the icon to have Musica Touch email your musical challenge to a friend. When your friend opens the challenge with Musica Touch, the program will display the example along with your score and the length of time it took you to play it. Your friend can choose to accept the challenge and can even challenge you in return by beating your score, or improving the time, or both. Note that the challenge icon only appears after you've been scored for a particular example.


• If you play a wrong note, keep going! The blue arrow above the staff is showing you which note you are supposed to play next. If you make a mistake, the arrow will still advance to the next note. You can use the "Try it again" button to correct your mistakes.

• Since the touch screen is very sensitive you'll want to use a certain playing technique. Lift your fingers high as you play, to avoid accidentally touching an unintended note - the screen will catch the slightest touch, deliberate or not. Be sure to treat the keyboard like a normal piano otherwise - that is, keep your finger on a note as long as you want it to keep sounding. Be aware that it is the touch of your fingertip that registers with the screen - your fingernail will not work!

• You can turn off the chord sound if desired and you can change the volume and instruments for each voice. Instrument and volume changes are made by touching the blue information buttons at the left of the chords, the staff, and on the keyboard.

• Though you're not required to play in time with the chord accompaniment and the accompaniment will adjust to your rhythm, you may wish to slow the tempo so that you can play the melody without pauses. You can change the tempo by touching the metronome icon on the right side of your screen.

Musica Touch™ © 2014 Ars Nova Software. This page may be freely copied.